US confirms ‘Spanish connection’

SPAIN is a centre for money-laundering operations and a gateway for drugs.

The accusations stem from the US State Department’s 2013 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR).

Drugs from Central and South America and North Africa enter Europe via Spain, maintained the report, which also recognised the “serious focus” by Spanish law enforcement.

The fight against crime, drug trafficking and money-laundering over the past five years has reduced the country’s “attractiveness” as an entry point, the report stated.

Money-laundering arises from drugs, organised crime, financial support for terrorism and tax evasion, it went on.  “Proceeds continue to be invested in real estate in the once-booming coastal areas in the south and east of the country.”

Criminal groups were also accused of placing money in other sectors “including services, communications, automobiles, art works and the finance sector.”

Access to European financial institutions allows organised crime to introduce illicit funds into the global financial system “with diminished scrutiny,” the report argued.

Moroccan hashish and Latin American cocaine are distributed and sold throughout Europe but the proceeds often return to Spain, it added. 

Travellers between Spain and Latin America allegedly smuggle huge sums of cash and informal money transfer services – particularly to Colombia – account for more.

This year’s INCSR also drew attention to Chinese-owned businesses whose “systematic falsification” of invoices for goods entering Spain and elaborate money-laundering network allowed them to send illicit proceeds back to the People’s Republic of China.  Hundreds of millions of euros were lost to the Spanish tax authorities, the report concluded.

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